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What is the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity Procurement Collaborative?

The new effort that’s part of the larger Recharge and Recover PHL initiative is challenging 100 members to increase their spending with Black and Brown…

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The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce recently launched its Diverse Procurement Collaborative, aiming to increase opportunities for small, Black and Brown-owned businesses through partnering with buyers to establish procurement goals.

This collaborative is part of the chamber’s Recharge & Recover PHL initiative, a public-private coalition created to construct long-term solutions in response to the global pandemic crisis.

During a virtual event held to announce the project, chamber Board Chair Susan Jacobson explained the intention.

“What it does is it addresses and solves actually one of the region’s most pressing issues, and that is how do we support Black and Brown businesses,” she said.The chamber believes that we can’t truly create a strong, equitable economic recovery without a commitment to those Black and Brown businesses. It’s got to include them.” 

The initiative is engaging 100 chamber members and encouraging them to increase their spending with small Black and Brown-owned businesses over the next two years. 

It seeks to promote the exchange of best practices, build a community of business leaders dedicated to diverse procurement practices, and create accountability through benchmarking. 

Over the next couple years, participating chamber members are urged to build up the diversity of their supplier network and invest in diverse vendors through several actions. 

These actions include: taking baseline assessments, reviewing benchmarks and setting goals, exchanging best practices, instituting fair and equitable procurement practices and the tracking and reporting of all progress. 

Sam Patterson, chamber partner and chairman of TeleCaas, was enthusiastic about the project and being able to play a role in it. 

“I’m excited to be a part of this effort because in my 40 years in business I haven’t seen a comprehensive effort like this to engage the corporate community with Black and Brown businesses,” Patterson said. 

He then made the point that the Greater Philadelphia area will not be able to thrive unless all businesses “participate in the business that is being done.”

“I believe that the Diverse Procurement Collaborative is an important step in expanding opportunities for all people in the Philadelphia area,” he said. 

John McAllister, director of facility operations for Wawa, felt that it made perfect sense for the company to enlist their energy and resources into the project. 

“I was excited to support this collaborative effort with the leading companies in the region, as my team and I can implement process changes with our sourcing efforts to ensure that we are reaching out to diverse vendors and including them in our events to help drive changes in this area,” McAllister said. 

He also explained that Wawa has been working with many long standing, large vendors, but they are thrilled to do more by expanding their vendor network and changing “how we allocate our business to help more local Black and brown suppliers.” 

The chamber is partnering with various organizations on the effort including the Independence Business Alliance, the Economy League of Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware (AACC). 

In a news release, Regina Hairston, president and CEO of the AACC, said that since its founding in 1993, the AACC of PA, NJ and DE have continually strived towards creating a “more equitable and prosperous region,” where every business is able to compete fairly and fully. 

“That is why we are happy to support the Diverse Procurement Collaborative, as it will help hold companies accountable to their commitment of expanding their diverse supplier networks and awarding more contracts to Black- and Brown-owned businesses,” she said. 

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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